Marketing is a crucial part of every business and has been around as long as people have had goods to sell. Henry Ford once said “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” The only thing different today compared to when Henry Ford was selling cars is the means in which you can market your products. You can do so in ways not much different than what he was doing 100 years ago or you can look at the marketing tactics shaping the world we live in today.
Here we look at different marketing categories and the ‘Old School’ approach many people may have used in the past. We will also look at the ‘New School’ alternative and how you can get better reach and return for your money. You will also have the ability to fill out our marketing checklist and get some free quick tips and a customized chart of how your answers stacked up!
It’s great to see that your business has a presence on social media. However, it’s not nearly enough to just have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and/or a LinkedIn profile. Is your business active on these platforms? Before saying yes, understand that posting twice a month is not active.
Social media gives you the ability to portray a brand identity. The information you present – and how you present it – is extremely important. I doubt anyone who follows you on Facebook cares about Suzie’s soccer game; none of your Twitter followers want to know that it’s John’s dog’s birthday today. Those don’t qualify as engaging posts and do little to help your identity.
We live in a selfish society. You have to give your followers what they want. They followed you for important company news, product information, specials, promotions and more.
The biggest challenge for businesses adopting social media is the time commitment – or so they think. Proper planning with social media content calendars makes time management a breeze. There are many tools (some FREE ones!) you can use to schedule posts out as far as you’d like. From there, be sure to respond to your engaging fans – they’re much more likely to purchase from a company who engages and cares about them!
ENGAGEMENT AND SELLING:
Creating engaging content for social media is difficult. Depending on your industry, selling products can even be tougher! However, those aren’t strong enough reasons to shy away. Social media platforms provide so many opportunities to create business relationships that lead to sales.
The first step is forming a qualified social audience. How can you do that? Through influencer research. This process includes vetting out social profiles that fit your target customers. Reach out to those profiles, especially ones with large followings. If they start talking about your product or service, their followers are influenced to at least check you out. Hence the term “influencer research.”
Social advertising is one of the most effective ways to promote events, promotions and more. That’s due to the awesome targeting options. You can choose who sees your ads based off their interests, location, age, income level and so much more. Be sure to review your buyer personas in order to set the most efficient target audience on social media!
How well versed are you in tracking social media activity and engagement? Advanced metrics to keep in mind include: organic reach of your posts, competitor comparisons, social referral traffic to your website, and more.
Gone are the days of consumers opening up a drawer in their kitchen, pulling out the 500-page book and finding your company’s phone number in the thousands of listings and ads. Instead, consumers simply take their phone out and search for whatever they need. This could be typing out their search, or using voice-command search. Whatever company’s website and/or phone number comes up is highly likely to receive an inquiry from that potential customer.
Consumers in today’s world want things to be as easy as possible. So when they search for your product or service, does your website appear?
Creating a Google My Business page is a great first step. You can enter important information like business hours, your website, a phone number, address and directions, and so much more. Best of all? It’s free!
Have a lot of competition in your area? You better be appearing in local review sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Trip Advisor and other websites that are related to your industry. These comparison sites are much more likely to appear before ANY company website because Google wants consumers to find the best option available.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS:
The Yellow Pages got nothing on you! Great job setting up your Google My Business page. Any way to make it easier for customers to find and contact you is a great start.
But did you know there’s so much more than simply listing your address, website and contact information?
Adding photos gives your page a personality that customers love to see. Include interior shots, as well as employee photos to give customers an “inside” look of your business. Plus, Google just recently added a video feature. Upload a video about your company, or promote your latest product to spark some interest!
Customers need instant information. However, today’s generation is much less likely to pick up the phone and call you. Sadly, they’d rather text or instant message. That’s why Google has incorporated a text message feature where businesses can set up a text line for customers who have immediate requests. Just another way to keep your customers happy!
As with any digital platform compared to its traditional rival like the Yellow Pages, online listings allow you to measure effectiveness. Google My Business reports are awesome. They’ll tell you how many phone calls your listing drove, how many customers visited your website from your page, and how many customers found directions from the listing.
NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES, TV, and RADIO:
These old-school methods of advertising definitely have their advantages, but are they worth it? Depending on your industry, it may make complete sense to run a television commercial or advertise in the industry magazine. However, it is nearly impossible to track ROI when it comes to these advertising platforms.
Online advertising is the complete opposite. Like the traditional methods above, you can set a budget and know exactly how much you’re spending. However, the main difference is the ability to measure effectiveness. Google AdWords, the number one platform for pay-per-click advertising, tells you how much each click costs and gives you a cost per conversion.
You know all those ads you see scrolling through Facebook? Ever wonder why those products or articles seem so relatable to you? It’s because of the highly effective targeting features. Social platforms give advertisers so much information – it’s actually scary. However, like PPC, the ability to measure ad spend and the resulting ROI is extremely simple.
Can you say the same about your billboard or radio ad? Nope, we didn’t think so…
Great choice to advertise your products and services online. Believe it or not, not every company is willing to take that leap, even with so many people who now prominently shop online.
As with any advertising investment, it’s important to realize your ROI. You may be getting a lot of website traffic, but is it quality traffic that is converting? Conversion optimization is one of, if not the most important factor to keep in mind with online advertising. Is your landing page effective? Is it easy for customers to gather the information they need?
Another thing to keep in mind is your targeting. Online advertising gives you so much flexibility and freedom when it comes to targeting your audience. Only want your ads seen by males ages 25-40? Done. Want to exclude the west coast from your targeting? You got it. Only want business owners or presidents to see your ads? Presto!
As more and more companies invest in online advertising, it’s time to think ahead and be where your competitors aren’t. Be an early adopter of in-app advertising with streaming ads. Create some video ads and throw them on YouTube. Be everywhere your target audience is!
SNAIL MAIL or DIRECT MAIL:
Have an important update or special to relay to your customers, snail mail might be the way to do it! That is, if you want to wait up to 5 days for them to receive it and hope they’re at a computer at that moment while the information is fresh in their mind. Lets not forget the impact weather plays on delivery times as well. Guess that is what you get when the name has “snail” right in it, marketing at a slow crawl.
Perhaps, instead, you’d prefer the idea of instantly reaching out to your customers by way of email marketing to let them know about important updates. You can even be able to track how long it took someone to convert and compile influential data as you plan future marketing endeavors.
Imagine the comparison for a Limited Time Only sale. Notifications by way of direct mail could require you keep the sale running for multiple weeks just to ensure everyone is notified while the sale is still running! Or, you could make that sale a This Weekend Only sale and see the business come through in just a matter of days.
Oh yea, don’t forget that the cost of postage is going to increase in 2018. How much more could you be paying for the same results?
So, you’re doing some email marketing! That’s great, but there’s always room for improvement. Some things to stop and think about when it comes to email marketing are the following:
- Are your lists segmented? People want to get emails that are relevant to them.
- What do your open and click through rates look like? Are you even measuring the effectiveness of your email efforts?
- When do you send your emails? Timing is everything; are you looking at this and sending them at the right time? This isn’t just time of day, either. If someone goes on your site, looks at a few products, then comes back, they are probably interested and an email would probably be effective for this individual.
- Are recipients opening your emails? Check your subjects lines. Are they enticing and encourage people to open the emails? Do they make sense for this segment (there we are, back to the segmented lists)?
- What does your content include? Are you just pushing emails that try to get people to purchase something or are you also providing valuable content such as educational pieces, tips or simply thanking them? Having the proper content and creating a “relationship” with your customers and prospects can be done.
Let’s be honest. Do you even answer phone calls from numbers you don’t have saved or recognize?
So why do you think this is an effective way for your sales team to contact potential customers?!
What if your sales team had actionable information about these leads? They’ll have just that with proper lead nurturing strategies. Lead nurturing, in short, is the ability to provide valuable content to prospects to further move them down the sales funnel.
Every prospect is different and should be treated as such. There’s no reason to send the same old product brochure to EVERY SINGLE lead. Instead, lead nurturing allows you to understand what step of the buying process they’re in, and how to effectively communicate with them through each step of the buying cycle.
Lead nurturing is usually associated with marketing automation. Platforms like SharpSpring, HubSpot, Pardot and more actively sync with your Salesforce and other lead generation tools. Then, the platforms will monitor your leads, keeping track of touch points and their actions. You can even automate (hence the term: marketing automation) actions like email sends and more.
It sounds overwhelming, but lead nurturing and marketing automation actually decreases the average time of a sales cycle. Much better than picking up the phone and calling Jim Smith who has no interest in your product.
So you are continuing to supply content to your customers automatically to move them along in the buying cycle? That’s awesome! Yet how far out have you planned? They say it takes 7 to 13 touches for a customer to become sales ready, so do you have all of those touches covered?
With lead nurturing, you have the ability to see all of a potential customers engagement with your website, emails, social media, and more. You can then see how many of those ~13 customer touches have already happened so you know that, when a sales rep reaches out, they are already sales ready.
One of the best parts about lead nurturing is that you can start your program and then just step away and let it run. You can set your own rules of when someone should receive an email or which email that could even be. Want to wait 2 months if they click ‘Link 2’ but only 1 month if they click ‘Link 1’? No problem. You can even set up point structures so that you or your sales team is notified once a person hits a certain point threshold.
Take advantage of the research a customer is doing on you by tracking it yourself!
FLYERS AND BROCHURES:
So, you are still printing and handing out brochures?! How many people are you reaching and how many are ending up in File 13? Although print is not dead, and is still effective, it is much more effective when used WITH digital marketing. Think about how many more people you could reach and at a lower cost.
Consumers typically do online research before going to a particular location. Whether that is looking at a menu online, browsing for a car or looking for a pair of shoes. Are your products or services online for them to see? How are you presenting them – is it in a way that these items will catch the eye of your target audience?
Having a website that is user friendly and displays, describes and promotes your products or services is step one! Get them up there for all to see. Watch your audience grow, even if you are local.
Step 2 is to showcase them through other digital marketing outlets. This may include social media, email marketing or online advertising. And once again, the cost to do this can be minimal. Posting on social media or sending an email virtually costs you nothing.
No matter how awesome your product is, or how persuading your sales team is – if your website isn’t quality, you just aren’t going to make sales. It’s great that you’ve invested in a website, but keep in mind one thing:
Your website content could be the greatest written material ever. If your customers can’t find it or read it easily, they’re leaving your site ASAP. Creating an enjoyable experience for website visitors should be the first step of any site.
Is your site mobile friendly? 2016 marked the first year that more internet users came from mobile devices than a desktop. That trend isn’t changing any time soon…
Is your site fast? Rather than just saying yes and continue to read on, think about it. Is your site fast? If you were a customer, would you enjoy being on your website?
Can your customers find the information they need? Site navigation is extremely important, especially with mobile users. Allow customers to click just once to find your best-selling products rather than roam around the website aimlessly.
Lastly, is your site secure? It better be if you want customers to fill out forms and share valuable information (like that credit card number!). Customers can never be too careful in today’s digital age. Are you going to leave personal information on a website that isn’t secure? Then why will your customers?
The original marketing tactic, word-of-mouth could be extremely helpful if not also terrifyingly unreliable. Imagine if someone is on the fence about doing business with you because they thought their friends-cousins-teachers-babysitters-brother said he might have had a bad experience. Is that person going to go through that chain to verify the information they heard? Most likely not. I could be like a game of telephone, except you lose customers in the process.
However, with online reviews, they will be presented organized information regarding the service or good you provide. You can have a star rating and be constantly rewarded with the high quality of work you provide with reviews to reflect that. Now, if someone wants to verify a reference, they can go to any number of available sites to ensure they’re making the right decision. The better your ranking, the higher you might be displayed in a search, as well.
You are also provided with crucial insight into the thoughts people have on your company. So you know where to make adjustments and what people appreciate most of your work or product. Or, if you’d prefer, you can look to have someone tell their friends if you have a good company based on if they like your logo or not.
ONLINE REVIEWS AND TESTIMONIALS:
Online reviews are so important so it’s great you are getting some. Obtaining online reviews can be difficult for some, especially getting POSITIVE customer reviews. Have you ever noticed that, no matter the industry, unsatisfied are more prone to write a nasty review but never address the company to notify them that they are unhappy (Caution, bad reviews quickly pull down your rating!). This is the one downfall to online reviews, but you can’t let it scare you. Make sure to respond to all reviews and don’t shy away from contacting those that leave you a bad review and ask them to change it once the issue has been solved.
Turn your customers into your company’s advocates. As the digital world is evolving, more consumers are taking the time to read online reviews when vetting out products and services. “We have too many reviews,” said no one ever. Do you have a sales team? Have them ask their customers for reviews. Hold a friendly competition among them to see who can get the most reviews.
Where are your reviews? Google, Yelp, Facebook? Maybe you have reviews on just one, maybe a few. Once you have these reviews across multiple programs, make sure to integrate these reviews on your website and across all your marketing. There are plugins that can be used to directly feed reviews to your site so you can showcase the awesome job your company is doing.
So, which are you? Are you going after your target customers through new school means and seeing quick payoffs alongside automated sales actions? Or are you using the same approach that was used to market the original Etch A Sketch? Fill out our marketing checklist and found out some quick tips to bring your old school practices up-to-date or maximize your new school tactics.